July 13, 2016

Tom Switzer

Blue Army: Persons of Interest


The Logic of War

For such is the logic of war.
If people do not display wisdom, they will clash like blind moles.
And then mutual annihilation will commence.


October 1962.


What good would it have done me in the last hour of my life to know that,
though our great nation and the United States were in complete ruins,
the national honor of the Soviet Union was intact?


Nikita Khrushchev (1894 – 1971), 1963.


Neither a wise man or a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.

Dwight Eisenhower (1890 – 1969), 6 October 1952.


Harry Haldeman (1926 – 93) [White House Chief of Staff, Nixon Administration, 1969–73]:
When Eisenhower arrived in the White House, the Korean War was stalemated.
Eisenhower ended the impasse in a hurry.
He secretly got word to the Chinese that he would drop nuclear bombs on North Korea unless a truce was signed immediately.
In a few weeks, the Chinese called for a truce and the Korean War ended.
(The Ends of Power, Times Books, 1978)

Daniel Ellsberg (1931):
Whether such threats actually affected the Chinese decision makers or whether they even received them remains uncertain and controversial.
What is neither uncertain nor inconsequential is that the Eisenhower administration, including [then vice president] Richard Nixon, regarded them as successful.
In line with this belief, Eisenhower and Dulles relied on such threats repeatedly, in a series of crises.
[And later Nixon, as president, made similar threats towards the North Vietnamese.]
(pp 311-2)

[Eisenhower’s judgment was] that no war between any significant forces of the United States and the Soviet Union could remain limited more than momentarily.
Therefore, if such a conflict were pending, the United States should immediately go to an all-out nuclear first strike rather than allow the Soviets to do so. …

[Any] alternative approach was unacceptable from a fiscal point of view.
[His economic advisors had convinced him] that preparation to fight even a limited number of Soviet divisions on the ground … would compel an increase in defense spending that would cause inflation, precipitating a depression and "national bankruptcy."
(pp 94-5)

In 1961, [within the US] arsenal there were some 500 bombs with an explosive power of 25 megatons.
Each of these warheads had more firepower than all the bombs and shells exploded in all the wars of human history. …
The preplanned targets for the whole force included … every city in the Soviet Union and China.
There was at least one warhead allocated for every city of 25,000 people or more in the Soviet Union.
(pp 98-9)

In 1986, the US had 23,317 nuclear warheads and Russia had 40,159, for a total of 63,836 weapons.
(p 144)

[The Strategic Integrated Operations Plan:]
  • provided for no distinction between the USSR and China; …
  • allowed for no avoidance or postponement of attacks on cities; …
  • allowed for no option to minimize nonmilitary casualties; …
  • offered no option for preserving enemy command and control capability, [and]
  • allowed for no Stop order once an authenticated Execute order was received by [Strategic Air Command] forces.
Since this unleashed attacks on all major Sino-Soviet urban-industrial centers and governmental and military control centers, this policy maintained no plausible basis for inducing any Soviet commanders or units to terminate operations prior to expending all their weapons upon US and allied cities.
(pp 126-7)

David Shoup (1904 – 83) [General, US Marine Corp]:
[Any] plan that murders 300 million Chinese when it might not even be their war is not a good plan.
That is not the American way.
(p 103, emphasis added)

Daniel Ellsberg (1931):
Deterring a surprise Soviet nuclear attack — or responding to such an attack — has never been the only or even the primary purpose of our nuclear plans and preparations.
The nature, scale, and posture of our strategic nuclear forces has always been shaped by the [imperative] to limit the damage to the United States from Soviet or Russian retaliation to a
US first strike against the USSR or Russia.
(p 12)

The … arrangements made in Russia and the United States have long made it highly likely, if not virtually certain, that a single Hiroshima-type fission weapon exploding on either Washington or Moscow — whether deliberate or the result of a mistaken attack (as in Fail Safe or Dr Strangelove) or as a result of an independent terrorist action — would lead to the end of human civilization (and most other species).
(The Doomsday Machine, Bloomsbury, 2017, p 305)

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900):
Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, [and] ages, it is the rule.
(Aphorism 156, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886)


Nuclear Roulette

Against stupidity
The Gods themselves
Contend in vain


Friedrich von Schiller (1759 – 1805)


Post-WWII history is littered with examples of deterrence preventing powers from using nuclear weapons in an offensive manner.
During the long peace of the Cold War there was actually a very limited chance of nuclear war.
Why?
Because Washington and Moscow were rational calculators of nuclear risks. …
Now it's true that Pakistan could one day implode into chaos and one or more of its nukes could fall into the hands of jihadists who are irrational enough to use them.
Still, the lesson [of history] is clear: nuclear deterrence works.


Tom Switzer (1971), India and Pakistan nuclear tests 1998, Between the Lines,
ABC Radio National, 31 May 2018.



Striking first would offer a tremendous advantage, and would emphasize degrading the highest political and military control to the greatest possible degree. …
[There] is no other targeting strategy that can achieve the war aims that underwrite survival.


Bruce Holloway (1912 – 99), Commander in Chief, US Strategic Air Command (1968-72),
Letter to Dr Francis Kane, TRW Inc, 31 March 1980.



(Cuban Missile Crisis, Wikipedia, 24 July 2018)

Robert Kennedy (1925 – 68):
[Those favoring diplomacy are] losing momentum. …
It’s going to be hard to stop this process.
The generals are itching for a fight.
They want to go.
(Meeting with Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador, 27 October 1962)

Curtis LeMay (1906 – 90) [Chief of Staff, US Air Force]:
[The withdrawal of US missiles from Turkey and Italy] is the greatest defeat in our history.
We should invade [Cuba] today.
(28 October 1962)

Chris Matthews:
There were 90 nuclear warheads [in Cuba in October 1962] in all.
30 of them possessed 66 times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
There was an equal number of warheads with the firepower of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, plus an assortment of other, smaller ones.
(Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, Simon & Schuster, 2011, Reader's Digest, 2013, p 237)

Curtis LeMay (1906 – 90) [Chief of Staff, US Air Force]:
[Who] is more qualified to make that decision [about whether to go to nuclear war on the basis of warning]:
  • some politician who may have been in office for only a couple of months … or
  • a man who has been preparing all his adult life to make it?
(p 113)

Daniel Ellsberg (1931):
[On] Saturday, October 27, 1962, a chain of events was in motion that might have come [within a handbreadth] of ending civilization …
[Despite] the fact … that both leaders, Khrushchev and Kennedy, were determined to avoid armed conflict … each hoped, by threatening war, to achieve a better bargain.
For the sake of a better deal they both were willing to postpone by hours or days the settlement that each was willing to make.
[Meanwhile,] their subordinates (unaware that they were supporting a pure bluff in a game of bargaining) were taking military actions that could unleash an unstoppable train of events …
[John Kennedy, and the other members of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, assessed the risk of "some form of nuclear war" to be at least 10%.]
(p 201)

[As Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara later] compelled the Minuteman developers, against great resistance, to install the equivalent of an electronic lock on the Minuteman, such that it couldn’t be fired without the receipt of a coded message from higher headquarters.
Decades later … a former Minuteman launch control officer, informed [McNamara] that the Air Force had ensured that the codes in the launch control centers were all set continuously at 00000000 [so as to defeat this safeguard against unauthorized launches.]
(The Doomsday Machine, Bloomsbury, 2017, p 62)

Robert McNamara (1916 – 2009):
Rationality alone will not save us.
(Errol Morris, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S McNamara, 2003)

Peace and Long Life


In his 2017 book The Doomsday Machine, Daniel Ellsberg describes his work on the command and control of US strategic forces at RAND in the heart of the nuclear weapon's establishment from 1958-64.
US weapons crews had the capacity to circumvent the chain of command and launch their weapons (and order all subordinate forces to launch theirs) without authorization.
Once launched they could not be recalled (despite a public statement once made by Ronald Reagan that submarine launched weapons could be).

Tom Switzer's editorial of 31 May 2018 ("India and Pakistan nuclear tests 1998") spruiks the deterrent benefits of nuclear weapons proliferation in terms of keeping the peace.
This raises a number of questions:
  • Why shouldn't the Middle East also enjoy the benefits of a regional balance of terror, like those that prevail in South Asia and Europe?
    That is to say, why pursue futile sanctions against Iran, when an Iranian bomb (and in due course a Saudi bomb) can stabilise the region by balancing Israel's (hidden) nuclear arsenal?
  • Has the spread of weapons technology from Pakistan and the subsequent acquisition of an intercontinental thermonuclear capability by North Korea made the US and its allies safer?
  • Does he believe that Douglas MacArthur was calculating rationally when he pressed Harry Truman to extend the Korean police action into China and kick off WWIII?
    Or when Curtis LeMay urged John Kennedy to invade Cuba in the face of 42,000 Soviet troops armed, unbeknownst to the Americans, with nuclear weapons?
  • And, since falsifying the hypothesis that "deterrence works" would, in all likelihood cost billions of people their lives, how sure do you have to be, to justify the risk that you might be wrong?

Switzer is betting his life (and everyone else's) on:
  • the rationality of national leaders (and the thousands of other people in a position to launch nuclear weapons), and
  • the infallibility of the systems and procedures machines they rely upon.
Given what we know of the command and control vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons systems, his confidence in human rationality is as astonishing, as it is naive.
As an example of rational calculation, it is not impressive.
It betrays, ironically enough, an implicit and distinctly irrational faith in human rationality.
That is to say, it is irrational not to recognise the limitations of human rationality and work within them.

In an ideal world inhabited by perfectly rational self-interested agents (ala political realism) with access to complete information (ala neoclassical economics) mutual assured destruction may be a stable equilibrium.
However, in real life, geopolitical crises involve:
  1. thousands of imperfectly rational human beings,
  2. operating under conditions of incomplete information,
  3. in circumstances which are complex, rapidly changing, and extremely stressful.
Realistically speaking, there is a non-trivial risk of something going catastrophically wrong.
The greatest enemy of rationality is the fog of war.
Fail-Safe, in the context of nuclear conflict, is an oxymoron.
All complex systems are prone to failure — without exception.
And, nuclear deterrence needs to fail only once for mutual annihilation to commence.

In overestimating human rationality, Switzer underestimates the human capacity for:
  • irrationality, and
  • rational miscalculation.
There may be many more people willing to sacrifice their lives in pursuit of irrational self-interest than he imagines.
Say, by engineering a war in the Middle East to bring on the Second Coming of Christ.
Not only can rational self-interest not save us.
But irrational self-interest may well destroy us.

In the trade off between:
  • potential benefits (reduced conventional or unilateral nuclear warfare), and
  • potential costs (ranging from civilisational collapse to species extinction),
when does a "very limited" chance of nuclear war become an "acceptable" chance of nuclear war?
And who decides?

The fact that we are not all dead may be evidence that nuclear deterrence works.
On the other hand, it might just mean that our luck has not yet run out.
As in Russian Roulette, no matter how many rounds you survive, there is no guarantee that the next round will not be your last.

Nuclear deterrence works (because humans are rational).
Until it doesn't (because humans are not rational enough).


Nuclear Poker


[In June 1961, the US Air Force] assistant chief of staff … believed there were "at least" 120 [Soviet ICBMs, ie] upwards of three to five times as many as [the US had.]
(p 152)

[This was based on] the fundamental premise that the Soviets were pursuing a program of world conquest like Hitler’s.
[Assuming this was true, they would logically seek to obtain a first strike capability as soon as possible.]
(p 162)

It had actually been leaks from the Air Force about the alleged Soviet superiority in ICBMs that had encouraged Kennedy to campaign for the presidency on a promise to eliminate the "missile gap" by accelerating our own missile program.
For the Air Force even to entertain what Army and Navy intelligence had been saying secretly for several years — that the Soviets were actually greatly inferior to the United States in strategic capability and numbers and that they showed no signs of attempting to change that situation — might have undermined the perceived necessity for an increased missile force, and perhaps radically lowered the size of the force that the Kennedy administration would procure.
(p 146)

[In September 1961, satellite reconnaissance of all suspected missile sites in revealed] that the Soviets had exactly four ICBMs, soft, liquid-fueled missiles at one site, Plesetsk.
Currently we had about 40 operational Atlas and Titan ICBMs. …
Hence, in terms just of ICBMs alone, the numbers were 10 to 1 in our favor.
(p 164, emphasis added)

A single US missile warhead, landing several miles away, would destroy all four with near certainty.
[In] terms of actual survivable missile capability against the United States, the Soviets had no deterrent at all.
(p 163)

In 1959 [two of the top Soviet experts at RAND] warned with unusual urgency that the Soviets were probably conducting a crash program on ICBMs that would give them a significant first-strike capability …
Their premise was that Bolsheviks did not bluff.
On that assumption, the sequence of [Khrushchev’s] allusions to rockets and sausage making told them that he had already arrived at the capability he had earlier predicted and now claimed.
They were wrong.
Khrushchev had been bluffing.
(p 166)

(Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine, Bloomsbury, 2017)

Would you like to know more?


The Wrong Side History


Tom Switzer (1971):
I'm joined by [Nigel Lawson] the chairman of The Global Warming Policy Foundation
[Nigel, do] you think there will come a time when historians will look back at the past decade or so and say that:
  • this climate hysteria [had] reached its peak, …
  • rational debate was at its most restricted, and
  • politicians [were] at their most gullible?

Nigel Lawson:
Yes, I think that this will be seen … as one of these outbreaks of collective madness which happen from time to time …
(New climate deal faces hurdles, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 21 May 2015)

Tom Switzer (1971):
[Patricia Adams is the author of a recent report from] The Global Warming Policy Foundation in London. …
[Patricia, there are those that] insist that climate change represents such a grave threat to humanity … that the world has no choice but to … end fossil fuels entirely.
Is history on their side?

Patricia Adams:
No, it's not on their side.
Countries that have developed in the last 200 to 300 years have done so because of the use of fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels have empowered our economies:
  • to raise standards of living, [and]
  • to provide jobs for people.
The key … is to use fossil fuels cleanly. …
And when I say cleanly, I mean to get rid of the emissions that come out of them that kill people …
CO2 is not a killer. …
I don't think CO2 is as dangerous as some of the other forms of energy.
It may be a problem, we have to keep a watch on it, but I don't think that it solves any problem by saying we've got to eliminate fossil fuels:
  • [firstly, it's not] going to happen … certainly not in [the] foreseeable future [and]
  • [secondly,] what about the alternatives that are being proposed?
    They also cause environmental problems …
[The Paris climate change agreement is just] a cash-grab … by the developing countries. …
(Is China really showing 'leadership' on tackling climate change?, Counterpoint, ABC Radio National, 31 October 2016)

Freeman Dyson [Academic Advisor, Global Warming Policy Foundation]:
[The problems caused by global warming] are being grossly exaggerated.
They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important.
Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health.
Not to mention the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans.
(Commencement Address, University of Michigan, Winter 2005)

[The] environmental movement [has been] hijacked by a bunch of climate fanatics, who have captured the attention of the public with scare stories. …
China and India have a simple choice to make.
Either they get rich [by burning prodigious quantities of coal and causing] a major increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or they stay poor.
I hope they choose to get rich. …
The good news is that the main effect of carbon dioxide … on the planet is to make [it] greener, [by] feeding the growth of green plants of all kinds [and] increasing the fertility of farms and fields and forests.
(Misunderstandings, questionable beliefs mar Paris climate talks, Boston Globe, 3 December 2015)

Miranda Devine:
Environmentalism is the powerful new secular religion and politically correct scientists are its high priests …
It used to be men in purple robes who controlled us; soon it will be men in white lab coats.
The geeks shall inherit the earth.
(John Quiggan, Innovation: the test is yet to come, Inside Story, 10 December 2015)

Peter Van Onselen [Associate Professor in Politics and Government, Edith Cowan University; Contributing Editor, The Australian]:
[According to Miranda Devine, the Delcons (Delusional Conservatives) believe] the Liberals should lose the election.
[That] it's better for the Liberals to lose to Labor.
And there is a candle being held to the possibility of a Tony Abbott comeback. …
Andrew Bolt decided he was one …
Nick Cater from the Menzies Research Centre …
[Tom Switzer's] definitely a Delcon.
(Gambling on Turnbull, Late Night Live, ABC Radio National, 7 September 2016)


Against Public Broadcasting


David Marr (1947):
Over the last twenty years, the impact on public debate of cuts and the fear of further cuts at the ABC is incalculable.
  • The politicians mask their revenge behind a barrage of abuse about bias;
  • the Howard government stacks the board with angry ideologues; and
  • [its] commercial news rivals print near-lunatic attacks.
(His Master's Voice, Quarterly Essay, Issue 26, 2007, p 52)


Tom Switzer (1971)


[Privatisation] would say to the ABC management:
You can put on as much Left wing ideological, tainted, journalism as you like — be frank about it — but just not at tax-payers expense. …
[And,] you'd be saving taxpayers up to more than million dollars every year …
Some programs, clearly, would not sell.
And others would continue to aggravate people like me.
But the point is, at least taxpayers would not be forced to pay for it. …

[Then] of course you've got this digital evolution … that's costing jobs … it's threatening the very viability of newspapers …
And let's be frank, when Rupert Murdoch goes, its highly unlikely that good quality flagship papers like the Australian will prevail.
In that environment, why should a tax-payer funded, free-to-the-consumer competitor, be allowed to expand on their turf?
There's something fundamentally unfair about that. …

My point is, that with the bias there and the changing media landscape, I don't think the ABC can be a public service broadcaster …

All things considered, the ABC News is more professional and it covers the big issues of the day in more detail than the commercial networks.
But my point is: [there's] a plethora of [digital] news and media [out there …]
[These] days, people … can read the New York Times or the Guardian newspaper online — we're well informed.
Do we need a publicly funded broadcaster to fill us in on those issues? …

[If, as the polls indicate, public broadcasting has 89% support in the community, why] would the marketplace let [such a] valuable franchise die?
If it were a commercially viable entity … how would privatising lead to diminishing the quality of it's product?

(Should the ABC be privatised?, Counterpoint, ABC Radio National, 10 June 2013)


Tom Switzer (1971)


[Malcolm Turnbull] needs a new model of governance that sidesteps an obstructionist and riff-raff Senate.
The side that picks the issues dominates the political debate, and the advantage lies with the Bully Pulpit if the Prime Minister will use it.
Why not call on the states to ditch the politically correct Safe Schools [anti-bullying] program?
Or encourage Muslim leaders to assimilate to Western cultural norms?
The culture-war list is endless, and it would resonate with what [John Howard] once called:
The decent conservative mainstream of Australia.
(PM must play the Right card, The Age, 11 July 2016, p 16)


Contents


The Logic of War
Climate Hysteria

Against Public Broadcasting

Bring on the Culture Wars

In Trump We Trust


Tom Switzer (1971)


Executive Director, Centre of Independent Studies.
Senior Fellow, United States Studies Centre, Sydney University.
Presenter, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National.
Senior Advisor to former federal Liberal Party leader Brendan Nelson.
Former Op-Ed Editor, The Australian.
Former Assistant Editor, American Enterprise Institute.

  • The intellectual decline of American conservatism, Between the Lines, ABC Radio National, 28 September 2017.
    Bret Stephens (1973): Columnist, The New York Times.
  • Political climate changing?, Between the Lines, ABC Radio National, 23 February 2017.
    Bob Inglis (1959): Former Republican Congressman for South Carolina's 4th district.
  • New climate deal faces hurdles, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 21 May 2015

    Tom Switzer (1971):
    {[Nigel,] I think your views are always worth hearing (at least on my show) …}
    Listeners should know that you and I have been talking about [climate] issues for the best part of a decade …


    Tim Flannery did not predict permanent drought

    Tom Switzer (1971):
    Here is Tim Flannery predicting permanent drought in NSW on ABC's Lateline 10 years ago …

    Tim Flannery:
    Since 1998 particularly we've seen just drought, drought, drought — particularly [in] regions like Sydney …
    If you look at the Warragamba catchment figures since 98 the water has been in virtual freefall and they've got about 2 years of supply left …
    So when the models start confirming what you're observing on the ground then there's some fairly strong basis for believing that we're understanding what's causing these … rainfall declines and [that] they do seem to be of a permanent nature.
    I don't think it's just a cycle …
    [The] worst case or Sydney is that the climate that's existed for the last 7 years continues for another 2 years.

    peaceandlonglife:
    Drought and reduced average rainfall are not the same thing.
    Multi-decadal declines in average rainfall have been observed across southern Australia.
    These trends may well be permanent.
    Reductions in average rainfall are likely to increase the frequency and severity of droughts.

    CSIRO / BoM:
    [Since] 1970 there has been a 17 per cent decline in average winter rainfall in the southwest of Australia. …
    [Similarly, south eastern Australia] has experienced a 15 per cent decline in late autumn and early winter rainfall since the mid-1990s, with a 25 per cent reduction in average rainfall across April and May. …
    (p 6)

    Further decreases in average rainfall are expected over southern Australia [in future.]
    [Consequently, droughts] are expected to become more frequent and severe in southern Australia. …
    (State of the Climate 2014, p 15)

    Tim Flannery:
    Between 1990 and 1996 the total flow into all eleven of Sydney’s dams had averaged 71,635 megalitres, but by 2003 this had dropped to just 39,881 megalitres, a decline of 45 per cent.
    (The Weather Makers, Text, 2005, p 131)

    Tim Flannery did not predict that Sydney would never again experience heavy rainfall

    Tom Switzer (1971):
    [When] Flannery appeared on the same show just recently … he was allowed to say that recent heavy rains in Sydney (that he said were not going to happen) were due to … global warming.
    When we're in drought, we're told its the fault of global warming; when there are heavy storms and floods, that's also the fault of global warming!

    peaceandlonglife:
    Scientifically speaking, there is no inconsistency between reduced average rainfall and increased heavy rainfall events.
    Global warming tends to increase average rainfall in already wet regions while reducing rainfall in already dry regions.
    Warmer air carries more moisture, so while in some places it may rain less often, when it does rain, the rain is heavier.

    IPCC:
    Available research suggests a significant future increase in heavy rainfall events in many regions, including some in which the mean rainfall is projected to decrease.
    (Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, 17 November 2007, p 49)

    CSIRO / BoM:
    For Australia as a whole, an increase in the number of dry days is expected, but it is also likely that rainfall will be heavier during wet periods.
    (State of the Climate 2012, 13 March 2012, p 11)

    Arctic sea ice and global glacial retreat is progressing at an accelerating rate

    Tom Switzer (1971):
    We're all aware of those debunked predictions such as the vanishing Himalayan glaciers, the disappearing North Polar ice cap …

    CSIRO / BoM:
    Arctic summer minimum sea-ice extent has declined by between 9.4 and 13.6 per cent per decade since 1979, a rate that is likely unprecedented in at least the past 1,450 years.
    (State of the Climate 2014, p 10)

    IPCC:
    [Under adaptation only scenarios:]
    • a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in September before mid-century is likely [and]
    • global glacier volume … is projected to decrease … by 35 to 85% [by 2100]
    (medium confidence).
    (Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis — SPM, 27 September 2013, p 17)

    For every climate scientist that rejects the consensus position there are 32 who accept it

    Tom Switzer (1971):
    There are many distinguished climate scientists such as [who have] criticized the IPPCs line on climate change. …

    Robert Mendelsohn [Professor of Economics, Yale University]:
    If Canada is a well-meaning member of the world community, Canadians might want to stop (global warming) because it's bad for the world.
    It's important that we start trying to control greenhouse gases. …
    Eventually it's going to get too warm [and the damages] will far exceed the benefits.
    (The UP side of global warming, The StarPhoenix, 10 January 2009)

    Stephen Schneider (1945 – 2010):
    [Not only did] Spencer and Christy [mislead] the world [and the scientific community for 25 years] based upon their [biased University of Alabama] satellite reconstruction, [its evident from their blogs that they did it] on purpose …
    [It] turned out they ['forgot' that] satellites fly in a proton soup [which] slows them down, lowers them, [and] changes the angle of the orbit [—] that's why they had a false cooling trend.
    (Climate Change Scepticism: Its Sources and Strategies, AAAS Forum, Science Show, ABC Radio National, 3 April 2010)

    Raymond Pierrehumbert:
    We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records.
    Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics.
    They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong.
    They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess — as has now been done.
    (How to cook a graph in three easy lessons, RealClimate, 21 May 2008)

  • Should the ABC be privatised?, Counterpoint, ABC Radio National, 10 June 2013.

    Tom Switzer (1971):
    I do think there are a lot of very good, decent, sound and intellectually honest journalists at the ABC …
    [However,] most of the journalists who work [there come from a] cultural left liberal background — the university classes.
    [80% of Australian journalist have university degrees — even Rupert Murdoch had a bust of Marx on his desk when he was at Oxford.]
    You see the same thing at the BBC in Britain.
    And when they get in a room, they naturally think alike.
    There's hardly any case for dissenting views. …
    There's very little political and ideological diversity in many of these important producers' rooms at some of these current affairs shows — and it shows. …

    Amanda Vanstone:
    Would you say the same if, you felt that — if we're restricting ourselves, for the sake of this discussion, to the current affairs programs — did exhibit, what was accepted universally as an even hand, would you still say privatise?
    In other words, do you accept that there's a place for a national broadcaster to inform, enlighten, educate and offer diversity that the marketplace might not always seek? …

    Tom Switzer (1971):
    Newsradio … is a first rate 24 hour network …
    Most of the journalists are just reading the news.
    There's not much commentary.
    There's not much chance to interpret the news, the way that you do on many of the current affairs programs.
    So I think there's a case there …

    … I'm told time and again … that the ABC consistently rates very highly in public opinion polling.
    Prestige and credibility has never been higher, according to these polls. …

    Amanda Vanstone:
    I'm told 89% of the public say … the ABC has a valuable role to play. …

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